MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — A Minnesota federal judge granted a motion for class certification to three groups of pork purchasers in a multidistrict price-fixing litigation.

The case encompasses the consolidation of several individually filed lawsuits against some of the nation’s largest pork producers — including Hormel Foods, Seaboard Foods, Triumph Foods, Tyson Foods and Clemens Food Group — who allegedly conspired to manipulate pork prices and pork supply. The producers control over 80% of the pork market, the court documents noted.

The pork purchasers alleged they paid “artificially inflated pork prices” directly due to producers “coordinating output and limiting production with the intent and expected result of increasing pork prices in the United States,” the court documents said.

The three certified classes of pork buyers represent direct purchaser plaintiffs, commercial and institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs, and consumer indirect purchaser plaintiffs.

In support of their motion for class certification, each group presented an expert testimony, which the defendants asked the courts to exclude. Judge John Tunheim was satisfied with the expert testimonies and denied the defendants’ request.

In December 2022, Tunheim was assigned the consolidated litigation, containing complaints that date back to 2018.

Tunheim approved a $20 million settlement from JBS USA in September 2022 as well as an $83 million settlement from Smithfield Foods Inc. in June 2021.